Wednesday, September 2, 2015

discarded memoir excerpt

When my memoir was published, the editor left out a couple of chapters. “African Interlude” chronicled the trip I took after working at the 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Cape Town, South Africa.

I liked that chapter but who is going to argue with the very first publisher of your very first book? So. I’m going publish excerpts from the chapter on this blog. In this one, I’ll share what happened in Namibia. In the next, what happened in Zimbabwe.

There were eight of us and Ingo, our driver guide. Each of the eight had been to the Parliament, several leading workshops, but the conversation focused mostly on what we were seeing … and the van – a handsome, comfortable Mercedes that we had to push before the motor turned over to speed us toward Namibia’s interior.

This was December -- the rains had returned and the animals had dispersed across the vast Etosha pan, no longer gathering at waterholes for survival. To make sure we would see animals, we were to stop first at a game preserve. We drove north on a straight, flat highway past open range full of scrub and dotted with occasional water tanks. There were mountains to our left that we never seemed to get closer to. Weaverbirds nested on the branches of telephone poles that Ingo said were still booby-trapped with mines from Namibia’s long struggle for independence.

… Macadam turned to dirt at the entrance to Mt. Etjo, an elegant game preserve that turned out to be historic. This was where an armistice was negotiated in the 80s, a prerequisite to Namibia’s independence in 1990.

All we had to negotiate was the river that had formed since Ingo had driven the road two weeks before. We made it about half way across and stayed there, stuck, for four hours.

Men and women tested their strategies and strength and knowledge of mechanical physics to no avail. Twilight and storm clouds began to gather, making it less amusing to be some twenty miles from shelter in territory ruled by major mammals.

The roar of an engine and a cloud of dust heralded a petite blonde driving an open red Toyota four-wheeler with her two towheaded sons and a dog. Seeing our dilemma, she charged through the river, hauled out a rope and, when it had been secured to both vehicles, pulled us out of the muck.

We never figured out who she was or where she came from.

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